While St. Thomas has adopted some smart chalking policies on its campus – similar to other campuses that want to make sure all discourse, even any that might be swiftly dissolved by a brief burst of rain, is civil and appropriate – the neighborhood has yet to adopt regulations on chalking the sidewalks.
Thank goodness, I say. Not only would it limit our opportunities for hopscotch and four square, this month it would have meant missed opportunities for good old community building and warm and fuzzy feelings by St. Thomas foot-commuters on the blocks of Portland Avenue, just east of the library and OEC.
My neighbor pals Claire (age eight) and her mother Betsy (age undisclosed) are members of the Let’s Always Remind Each Other That Living Next to a Beautiful and Vibrant University Comes With Many More Advantages Than Disadvantages Club. They chalked a nice little note to students and other neighborhood meanderers, many of whom happily use Portland as a portal to their parking spots, rental spots or home spots.
While they pondered if the note should read “Welcome Back to School” or “Happy First Day of School,” they reasoned they should be most-inclusive and “to fit everyone!” Ah, indeed it did. I observed many a walker pause and/or glance and/or grin a bit.
Like most of us living in the neighborhood surrounding St. Thomas, we have many great reasons to love it. Fall is one of those reasons because with it comes the unmistakable and palpable energy of people coming and going in their St. Thomas-situated lives. It’s a rather pure and contagious energy of ideas, papers and exams; thoughts, friendships and fellowship; and critical thinking, argument creating and lecture writing/listening.
As my neighbor the late John Bannigan Jr. believed, the energy of campus is inspiring and comforting, not annoying. While indeed living in the neighborhood expectedly comes with a few late-night and louder-than-ideal voices in the streets, we who choose to live here are (usually) quick to remind ourselves of our youthful days: Ah, to be young again … and to see 11 p.m. as the beginning of the night, not the end.
Whatever time your day or night starts or ends, I hope it’s a great one.